John O’Brien is a longtime cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine. He’s also a senior lieutenant in the North Wildwood Beach Patrol, an illustrator of dozens of children’s books, and a banjo/concertina player specializing in Celtic and Dixieland tunes.
John O’Brien, who lives in Delran New Jersey, says his beach work doesn’t often inspire his artwork directly: “This job is public safety, the total opposite of drawing.”
But the picture on the right, which appeared in the New Yorker on Aug. 13, 2001 had to be inspired by his time in on the beach.
Then there was Beach Patrol that you wrote with Max Bilkins and illustrated. That book came out in May 2004.
It’s obvious his job influenced that book, so I am sure the beach will show up again in John’s art.
I asked John about his process. This is what he had to say, “I begin my sketches using Bienfang Graphics paper, pencil and kneaded eraser surrounded by research material, text and type, if available.
“When I’m satisfied with the design, I ink over my pencil lines with a Rapidograph pen. Then, I erase the pencil lines and tape down the text.
“For the finishes I trace my sketches in pencil onto Strathore 4-ply 500 Series vellum surface paper, using a light box.
“Next, I ink over the pencil lines with the same Rapidograph pen used for the sketches.
“If color is required, I tape the drawing to canvas board using masking tape.
“I apply color to the inked drawing with Doctor Martin’s Hydrus water colors. I occasionally use liquid or low tack frisket to mask out certain areas. A blow dryer is also a useful tool to speed things along.”
Sketch to Final
John’s latest book.
Sketch to Final.
POOF is my personal favorite!
John tells me the above piece ended up being made into fabric and turned into jackets.
The three cartoons below all appeared in the New York Times.
If you would like to meet John O’Brien he is having a book signing for Blockhead next Saturday at:
Books of Wonder Book Store
Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010
12 noon -2:00 pm
18 W. 18th St., NYC 10011
Hope you enjoyed your visit with John. This is only a fraction of the books he has illustrated. One of these days I am sure he will show off and have a website deveoped, so we can all visit when we want a fix of John O’Brien.
Besides being very talented, he is also a very nice guy. If you can stop by Books of Wonder next Saturday, I am sure you will enjoy your time with him.